THE WILD WAYS
soul, the natural world & the ecological imagination
(the sister website to fire-in-the-head).
When they ask where I am, tell them:
Gone into leaf and stone and water
Gone into bone, and bird, and air.
~ Roselle Angwin
NEW FOR 2019: the latest offering in my WILD WAYS eco-soul work.
TONGUES IN TREES is a distance learning course rooted (ha!) in tree lore, tree botany, tree spirit medicine and the Celtic Tree Alphabet that came into being at the winter solstice 2018 full moon. Through creative and outdoor practice over a year of monthly teachings participants are encouraged to become intimate with a number of indigenous British trees, and more deeply immersed in the true magic of the tree realm. NEXT INTAKE: Winter Solstice 2019. More details on the link.
ECOTHERAPY & THE ECOLOGICAL IMAGINATION
‘The earth does not belong to us; we belong to the earth.’
How wonderful, how world-changing, it would be if that were a genuinely-lived truth for our species. The intention of my work, both books and courses, is to help make this a commonly-experienced reality for at least a few of us.
Though my courses and retreats are often described as individually therapeutic and transformative, I want to emphasise that the work is intended as much to heal our fractured relationship with the rest of nature as to have nature help heal our personal and collective wounds. (Of course, the two are deeply interconnected, and in making the one journey we usually inevitably make the other. It’s a question of what we choose to emphasise at what time.)
In my work, my main passion is bringing this about through a felt and creative relational connection between humans and the rest of the natural world. Although my work falls loosely into the ‘ecotherapy’ and also ‘soul medicine‘ categories, I believe that what I’m doing is unique.
The three main strands in my practice are the soul and the imaginal life, deep ecology and depth psychology, seasoned with story, myth, poetry and that over-used word ‘mindfulness’ (via my 40-year-long Zen practice). Essentially, it’s about waking up.
EARTH COSMOS PSYCHE
I believe that underlying our current ecological crisis is the loss of a sense of spiritual connection as well as a heart-centred one to the earth and other species, coupled with an absence of a sense of deep meaning in our culture with its failures of imagination. In these times of bleak materialism and environmental destruction, I notice how many people who come on my courses are looking for a restoration of something more profound and relational.
Way back in 1993 I wrote at the end of my first book Riding the Dragon – myth & the inner journey that we need new stories: stories about cherishing the earth and other species, relating differently to each other, restoring the lost feminine and soul to the world, rejoining ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’, celebrating the fact of being alive; green stories, stories of enchantment, connectedness, wonder and healing. I wrote something similar again in my Writing the Bright Moment – inspiration & guidance for writers (2005).
I’m still banging on about it all. Nothing is more important, it seems to me, than re-visioning our place in this delicate web that holds us all. The closest I can get is to speak of rediscovering a relationship of reciprocity and affinity between us and the other-than-human. (In the time since I began writing about it, this movement has grown immeasurably; not, I add, that I’m claiming responsibility for that!)
Bringing inner and outer worlds together seems to be key. All the work I do, offered via my programme of courses and my writings, is designed to help re-establish a heartful, sustainable and strong relationship with the natural world, as well as with our own imagination and the lost, forgotten or hidden parts of our inner lives.
Rooted in an earth-centred spirituality, the courses help restore reconnectedness through hands-on outdoor experience. Along the way, the animals, birds, plants, trees, rocks, seasonal changes, the earth’s turning points, and weather patterns co-create or help shape our experience. We listen to the land, pay attention to Other and remember how to be fully alert with all our senses, including the non-physical ones.
At the same time, we explore dimensions of our inner world and the life of the soul through the imagination – story, poetry, myth, bardic and native British pre-Christian spiritual teachings, land art, archetypes, plant- tree- and animal-lore, and eco-writing. And we remember how to play.
Something of the liminal glides into such depth work; when we are immersed in profound connection in this way and the rational mind has stepped back a little from its usual dominance, the Otherworld seems close – the more especially since I often work in what are known as ‘thin veil’ places, and where animal, tree and plant spirit medicine (not ingested, by the way) step forward to help guide us.
Out of all this, new stories can grow, and we can live them.
Consistent feedback is that this work catalyses change. (You have been warned!)
You can read more about the what, how, why and where here.
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© The material on this website, the sister website Fire in the Head, my blog and the titles of my courses are my own work, developed over decades. No-one who has worked with me or alongside me, or anyone else visiting these sites, is or has been authorised to use either the content or titles of such work.
Freedom. It isn’t once, to walk out
under the Milky Way, feeling the rivers
of light, the fields of dark –
freedom is daily, prose-bound, routine
remembering. Putting together, inch by inch
the starry worlds. From all the lost collections.
My commitment to animal welfare for 2016 was to create & maintain a vegan website. If this interests you, even only tentatively, please visit, and contribute if you wish: http://57billion.org